• About Me

    I am a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Political Science Department at Stanford University. I am also a member of the Stanford Civics Initiative. I have been a Lecturer and a Postdoctoral Associate in Economics at New York University--Abu Dhabi and a Visiting Scholar at the University of Bordeaux. I received my Ph.D. in Economics from Los Andes University. My work focuses on the intersection between social networks and economic history.

     

    My geographical areas of specialty are Latin America and the Middle East.

     

    I regularly contribute to different news outlets. Currently, I am a Forbes Magazine op-ed columnist.

     

    I am also one of the hosts of the New Books in Economic and Business History podcast.

    My CV is available HERE. See details in my public profiles:

  • ResearchGate

    Academia.edu

    Google Scholar

    Ideas RePEc

    Stanford Profile

  • Academic Employment

    Research Experience

    Stanford University

    2021-Present

    Postdoctoral Research Fellow

    New York University--Abu Dhabi

    2018-2021

    Postdoctoral Associate

    University of Bordeaux

    2017

    Visiting Research Fellow

    Los Andes University

    2014-2017

    Research assistant

  • Education

    Los Andes University

    2013 - 2018

    Ph.D. in Economics (with honors)

    Committee: Andrés Álvarez, Tomás Rodríguez, Fabio Sanchez, and Matthew O. Jackson

    Stanford University

    2016-2017

    Visiting Student Researcher

    Los Andes University

    2016

    M.A. in Economics

    University of Antioquia

    2007-2012

    B.A. in Economics (with honors)

  • Research Interests

    Economic history, social networks, political economy, political theory.

  • Research in Progress

    • Social Mobility in an Industrializing Economy - joint with Camilo Garcia-Jimeno (Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago) and James Robinson (University of Chicago).
    • Friends Forever. The Persistence of Social Interactions across Centuries  - joint with Francisco J. Marco-Gracia (University of Zaragoza).
    • Unite or Perish. Networks and Religion in Bagdhad during the Fall of the Abbasid Caliphate  - joint with Jeremy Farrell (Emory University).
    • Information Transmission in Traditional Societies. Evidence from Sufism in Early Islam  - joint with Jeremy Farrell (Emory University).
  • Drafts

    This paper offers a theoretical framework to understand the coevolution of social interactions and long-term economic growth. It begins by considering that most traditional societies did not have educational markets. Thus, access to the required knowledge for transiting to a modern economy had to be transmitted through social interactions, in particular, through the interaction between heterogeneous groups of people–i.e. distant interactions. Once immersed in a modern economy, the productive system should have increased the demand for knowledge, promoting more distant interactions. Simultaneously, the emergence of distant interactions should have affected the connectivity of society, reducing its heterogeneity, making cheaper posterior interactions but reducing their profitability. Moreover, social interactions competed and benefited from other non-market activities, child rearing specifically. The model arrives at four basic predictions. First, modern economic growth brings a more cohesive society. Second, modern economic growth brings long-term reductions in fertility with potential short-term increases. Third, initial barriers to social interactions could explain the timing of modern economic growth arrival. Fourth, the timing of modern economic growth arrival could explain current output levels. I exploit different data sources to offer evidence in support of these predictions.

    Revise & Resubmit, Journal of Economic History

    | Featured in El Espectador | El Colombiano | Blu Radio | Yahoo Finance | Forbes | Bloomberg

    This paper explores the relationship between social networks and entrepreneurship by constructing a dynamic social network from archival records. The network corresponds to the elite of a society in transition to modernity, late 19th- and early 20th-century Antioquia (Colombia). I exploit the timing of unexpected deaths as a source of exogenous variation of individuals' network position. I find that individuals better connected at a global level (i.e. more important as bridges in the entire network) were more involved in entrepreneurship. However, I do not find individuals better locally connected (i.e. with a denser immediate network) to be more involved in entrepreneurship. I provide quantitative evidence on the performance of the firms and narratives on the behavior of the entrepreneurs who created them to indicate that these results can be explained by the requirement of complementary resources that entrepreneurship had. These resources were spread in society and markets worked poorly enough to canalize them to entrepreneurs. Thus, networks operated as substitutes for markets in the acquisition of resources. In particular, individuals with network positions that favored the combination of a broad set of resources had a comparative advantage in entrepreneurship.

    This paper proposes a network formation model for explaining the stability of tribal societies. The model is supported by the idea that every two members of a tribe should have benefited from being connected to each other in order for the whole tribe to be stable. It also considers the constraints that the ecosystem brought to social interaction in pre-modern contexts. The model has three predictions. First, both homogeneous and heterogeneous tribes could have been stable regardless of technological development. Second, the social complexity of tribes was a function of technological development (having access to agriculture should have enabled the emergence of larger and more complex societies), interaction costs (if they were too low or too high, no complex society should have emerged), and environmental conditions (poor ecosystems should not have allowed the formation of complex societies). Finally, the model predicts that collapses of agricultural societies could not come from environmental pressures, but from high interaction costs. The predictions are consistent with some of the most relevant human history patterns.

    Social Interactions and Contract Enforcement in the Postcolonial Arab World. Evidence from the Industrial Elite of Morocco, 1956-1982

    joint with Romain Ferrali (Aix-Marseille School of Economics)

    This paper studies the role of social interactions in contract enforcement in the independent Arab world. We use mixed methods to exploit an exceptional set of interviews with members of the industrial elite of Morocco during the import-substituting-industrialization (ISI). We find that the high risk of contractual breach characterized the business environment. In this context, business people were aware of the value of social ties. They did not use these ties to promote collective-punishment. Instead, they used ties to solve disputes through bilateral methods that did not threaten their existing connections. In addition, they used their network to screen the quality of potential business partners. This was strongly supported by the small size of the business community. Other enforcement mechanisms, such as legal methods, were seldom used because they threaten valuable personal ties. We find that business and social connections were more effective than connections with the State, kin-based, and ethno-geographic groups.

    Finding a Job through Networks: How does Tie Strength Solve Information Problems during the Job Search Process

    joint with Thibaud Deguilhem (University of Paris), Eric Quintane (Los Andes University), & Santiago Gómez (University of Heidelberg)

    (Under review)

    Contributing to research on the role of social relationships in labor inequality, this paper examines how job seekers’ use of their social networks affect the job search process. We build on information economics literature to identify two distinct information problems that job seekers face during the job search process: incomplete information and information asymmetry. We argue that each information problem is better solved by a different type of social relationship (along the Trust and Frequency dimensions), and that the fit between the type of relationship an individual uses and the type of information problem that dominates the job search process drives job search outcomes, such as salary increase and search duration. We test our theory in a unique dataset, representative of the working population in Bogota (Colombia), of 1,601 participants who recently found a new job through their social network. Our results support our theory. The alignment between the type of tie and the information problem to be solved affects individuals’ salary change and job search duration. We complement our quantitative analysis with 104 qualitative interviews to validate our interpretations and provide a deeper understanding of the mechanisms that underlie our results. We discuss the implications of our results for the literature on networks and job search.

    Constitutions and Order

    joint with Leopoldo Fergusson (Los Andes University), Santiago Torres (Los Andes University), and James Robinson (University of Chicago).

    A fundamental political problem in society is how to structure institutions to maintain order
    and reduce political violence in the face of self-interested behavior. In this paper, we propose a framework to think about why some societies ended up with different constitutional solutions to that problem. This framework predicts that opposition through violence (i.e. rebellion) could be accepted by the political system because the institutions are such that the incumbent cannot commit to meeting the participation constraint of the challenger by optimizing the details of the
    constitution. We accompany the model with evidence from the constitutional debates in the U.S. and Colombia during their early Republican life. We show that the low political uncertainty of the Colombian context, its high inequality and policy uncertainty, and the huge impatience of its incumbents led its constitutional convention to embrace a legal formulation that tolerated political violence, while the opposite happened in the U.S.

  • Publications

    Chapters in Books

    - Modernizing elites in Latin America: Social-network evidence from the emergence of banking in Antioquia. 

    In Felipe Valencia Caicedo (Ed.) Roots of Underdevelopment: A New Economic (and Political) History of Latin America and the Caribbean, forthcoming.

    - Estabilidad financiera durante la banca libre en Antioquia. Medición del riesgo sistémico a través de las redes de propiedad.

    In Carlos Dávila (Ed.) Empresas y empresarios en la historia de Colombia, forthcoming.

    - Café y ciudad: El despegue urbano de Pereira. Joint with Sebastián Martínez.

    In Sebastián Martínez & Adriana María Suárez Mayorga (Ed.) Repensando la Historia Urbana. Reflexiones Históricas en Torno a la Ciudad Colombiana, 2020. | Featured in Forbes

    Participación política de colombianos en Colombia, Estados Unidos, España y Reino Unido Joint with William Mejía.

    In Cristina Escobar & Milena Gómez Kopp (Ed.) El voto en el exterior: estudio comparativo de las elecciones colombianas legislativas y presidenciales. 2015

    Working Papers and Reports

    • "Perfil económico del Eje Cafetero. Un análisis con miras a la competitividad territorial," 2013.
    • "Freedom and economic performance," 2012.
    • "Ethics and justice. Reflections on The Idea of Justice by Amartya Sen," 2012.

    Seminars and Conferences

    • 2022:  Economic History Seminar at UC Berkeley (Berkeley, US).  CLAS Lecture at Stanford University (Stanford, USA), Faculty Seminar at University of Connecticut (Connecticut, US--online). Stanford Political Theory Workshop (Stanford, USA), Third Annual Mountain West Economic History Conference at Utah State University (Logan, US). Ethics in Society Workshop at Stanford University (Stanford, USA).
    • 2021:  DEEP Seminar (Seoul, Korea--online).  Historical Network Research Conference (Luxembourg--online).   Seminar at Universidad Autónoma de Bucaramanga (Bucaramanga, Colombia--online). Economic History Seminar at Vienna University of Economics and Business-University of Vienna (Vienna, Austria--online). LACEA Meetings (Bogota, Colombia–online).  EPOG+ Seminar at University of Paris (Paris, France–online)
    • 2020:  CMES Lunch Seminar at UC Berkeley (Berkeley, US). Economic History Breakfast Seminar at UC Davis (Davis, US).  Economic History Seminar at Lund University (Lund, Sweden).
    • 2019: Entrepreneurship Seminar at INSEAD Singapore (Singapore). Applied Microeconomics Seminar at Monash University (Melbourne, Australia). Australian Cliometrics Workshop at UNSW (Sydney, Australia). RSE Seminar at The Australian National University (Canberra, Australia). Historical Political Economy Conference at NYUAD (Abu Dhabi, UAE). ADRES Conference (Aix-Marseille School of Economics, France). LEAP Seminar at Stellenbosch University (Stellenbosch, South Africa).  Workshop on the Frontiers of Network Science at NYUAD (Abu Dhabi, UAE). Growth Lab Lunch Seminar at Brown University (Providence, US). CEDE Seminar at Los Andes University (Bogotá, Colombia). Faculty Seminar at CESA (Bogotá, Colombia).  CID Seminar at Universidad Nacional (Bogotá, Colombia). GHE-ACHEE Seminar at Los Andes University (Bogotá, Colombia). Networks Group Meeting at NYUAD (Abu Dhabi, UAE). The Tasaamuh Film Festival at Manarat Al Saadiyat (Abu Dhabi, UAE). Workshop on African Economic History at Stellenbosch University (Stellenbosch, South Africa).
    • 2018: XVIIIth World Economic History Congress at MIT (Boston, US). LSE-Stanford Conference on Long-run Development in Latin America (London, UK). NYUAD Research Conference (Abu Dhabi, UAE). Market Institutions and Economic History Colloquium at UNAM (Mexico D.F., Mexico). Workshop on the Frontiers of Network Science at NYUAD (Abu Dhabi, UAE). CEDE Seminar at Los Andes University (Bogotá, Colombia). GHE-ACHEE Seminar at Los Andes University (Bogotá, Colombia). Faculty Seminar U. ICESI (Cali, Colombia). Faculty Seminar at CESA (Bogotá, Colombia). Methods on Historical Research at UTP (Pereira, Colombia). Regional History Seminar at Banco de la República (Pereira, Colombia).  Seminar at Universidad Autónoma de Bucaramanga (Bucaramanga, Colombia). Lunch Seminar at Econometria Consultores (Bogotá, Colombia). Lunch Seminar at Universidad Nacional (Bogotá, Colombia). 
    • 2017: Applied Seminar at Autonomous University of Barcelona (Barcelona, Spain). Lunch Seminar at Stockholm School of Economics (Stockholm, Sweden). Innovation Seminar at Bordeaux University (Bordeaux, France). Lunch Seminar at Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History-Luxemburg University (Luxemburg city, Luxemburg). Theory Discussion Group at Bordeaux University (Bordeaux, France). Economic History Seminar at Vienna University of Economics and Business-University of Vienna (Vienna, Austria). Economic History Graduate Seminar at Barcelona University (Barcelona, Spain). Historical Network Research Congress (Turku, Finland). Graduate Students Seminar at Bordeaux University (Bordeaux, France). Economic and Social History Graduate Workshop (Oxford, UK). IV Workshop: New Economic Historians of Latin America (Madrid, Spain). Economic History and Cliometrics Lab Conference (Santiago de Chile, Chile). Faculty Seminar (Universidad del Rosario).
    • 2016: Stanford Network Forum (Stanford, US), Social Networks Discussion Group (Stanford, US), Digital History Workshop (Stanford, US), 1st LACEA Economic History Network Meeting (Medellín, Colombia). Banco de la República Seminar (Medellín, Colombia). SER Seminar at Universidad de Antioquia (Medellín, Colombia). Social Science Seminar at Universidad Nacional (Medellín, Colombia).
    • 2015: XVIIth World Economic History Congress (Kyoto, Japan). 1st History of Economics Summer School in Latin America (Bogotá, Colombia). CEDE Seminar at Los Andes University (Bogotá, Colombia).
    • 2014: Colombian Economic History Association Seminar (Bogotá, Colombia). 4th Congress of Colombian Economy at Los Andes University (Bogotá, Colombia). 4th Latin American Congress of Economic History (Bogotá, Colombia).
    • 2013: 4th Southern Hemisphere Economic History Summer School (Montevideo, Uruguay). IV Simposio Colombiano de Historia Regional y Local (Manizales, Colombia). 1st Meeting of Regional GDP Reconstruction in Latin America, 1890-2010 (Montevideo, Uruguay).
    • 2012: 1st Colombian Meeting of Economic History (Bogotá, Colombia). Banco de la República Seminar (Medellín, Colombia). 3rd Congress of Colombian Economy at Los Andes University (Bogotá, Colombia).
    • 2010: 2nd Congress of Colombian Economy at  Los Andes University (Bogotá, Colombia). 2nd Latin American Congress of Economic History (México D.F., México)
    • 2009: VI Economics Student Forum at Universidad del Rosario (Bogotá, Colombia).
    • 2008: XXIII National Congress of Economics students (Barranquilla, Colombia).
  • Referee for

    • Multidisciplinary: PLOS One; Connections; Editorial Universidad del Rosario.
    • Economics: Journal of Economic Growth; Journal of Development Economics; Journal of the History of Economic Thought; Economic History Research; Latin America in Economic History; Revista de Historia Industrial; Lecturas de Economía; Sociedad y Economía; Documentos y Aportes en Administración Pública y Gestión Estatal; Economía & Región; Ensayos de Economía; Tiempo & Economía; História Econômica & História de Empresas.
    • History: Business History, HiSTOReLo; Historia y Sociedad; Memorias; Anuario Historia Regional y de las Fronteras; Ciencia Nueva.
    • Sociology: Socio-Economic Review; Civilizar Ciencias Sociales y Humanas.
  • Administrative and Editorial Positions

    Forbes Magazine (Colombia)

    2020-Present

    Columnist

    Colombian Economic History Association (ACHE)

    2014-Present

    Secretary

    RePEc Biblio--Economic History

    2013-Present

    Editor

    Economic History Society

    2017-2018

    Student Ambassador

    ABC-Economía

    2012

    Columnist

  • Jury for

    COLCIENCIAS Special Grant Programme: Funding instrument which supports projects that strengthen state capacity by Colombian scholars (Administrative Department of Science, Technology, and Innovation of Colombia)

    Juan Luis Londoño Prize: Award that recognizes the best master thesis on economics (Los Andes University)

    De la Banca Escolar a la Banca Central Competition: Contest that recognizes the best essay on economics from Colombian high school students (Central Bank of Colombia)

    Tenure referee for Universidad Militar: Group of peers that evaluates faculty's production to consider tenure promotion (Universidad Militar Nueva Granada)

    Tenure referee for Universidad del Valle: Group of peers that evaluates faculty's production to consider tenure promotion (Universidad del Valle)

    OeNB Anniversary Fund: Funding instrument which promotes projects in scientific research (Austrian Central Bank)

    CSUR Grant Programme: Funding instrument which supports scientific production made by South African scholars (National Research Foundation of South Africa)

    LACEA Scientific committee member: Group of peers that selects the papers to be part of the Latin American and Caribbean Economic Association annual meeting.

  • Teaching

    Teaching Experience

    Stanford University

    2021-Present

    • Lecturer: Wealth of Nations (2021, 2023), Societal Collapse (2022, 2023). Undergraduate level.​

    New York University--Abu Dhabi

    2020-2021

    • Lecturer: Wealth of Nations  (Economic Growth) (2020, 2021). Undergraduate level.​

    Los Andes University

    2014-2016

    • Lecturer: Principles of Mathematics (2016). Graduate level.
    • Instructor: Advanced Macroeconomics (Economic Growth) (2015, 2016). Graduate level.
    • Teaching assistant: Economic History of Colombia (2014, 2015). Undergraduate level.​​

    Universidad Cooperativa de Colombia

    2012-2013

    • Lecturer: Principles of Economics (2012, 2013). Undergraduate level.

    Fundación Universitaria del Área Andina

    2012-2013

    • Lecturer: Principles of Economic Theory (2012, 2013), Principles of Economic Policy (2012, 2013). Undergraduate level.​
  • Languages

    Spanish: Native language

    English: Advanced

    French: Intermediate

    Italian: Intermediate

    Arabic (Modern Standard Arabic & Levantine Arabic): Beginner

  • Podcast

    I am one of the hosts of the New Books in Economic and Business History podcast. The podcast intends to introduce the work of the most influential economic historians in the world to a wide public via new media. In the context of an informal conversation, I talk with them about their careers and their work apropos of the publication of their latest book. Check out our most recent episodes:

  • My Library

    I enjoy collecting books. My library currently holds more than 1,400 volumes, with editions ranging from 1700 to the present. It specializes in the history of economic thought, Middle-Eastern studies, Latin-American studies, and East-Asian literature. Here some of my treasures:

  • My Library

    A first edition of Le Traité d'Économie Pure by Maurice Allais (1943)

    Several things make this volume a treasure:

    • It seems to be the only copy left in the world. It is a mimeographic edition, quite delicate and in perfect conditions. It was published during World War II, when the printing press was severely restricted, in particular, the mimeographic methods (this were the methods used by rebels).
    • It was the first work written by Maurice Allais and it can be considered one of the three pillars of modern economic theory.
    • It was the property of Kenneth Arrow (maybe the greatest social scientist of the second half of the twentieth century).
    • Allais was ahead of his time. Paul Samuelson (Nobel Prize in Economics in 1970) always thought that Allais deserved the Nobel Prize much earlier. When Allais received the Award in 1980, Samuelson said: "Had Allais earliest writings been in English, a generation of economic theory would have taken a different course"

    A first edition of Expected utility hypotheses and the Allais Paradox by Maurice Allais and Ole Hagen (1979)

    It was a gift from M. Allais to Jan Tinbergen. In the book dedication, Allais declares his admiration to Tinbergen, symbolizing a period in which the different branches of economics had a stronger connection.

     

    Tinbergen was awarded the first Nobel Prize in Economics ten years before this dedication. He is considered one of the founding fathers of econometrics and was tremendously influential in Europe—in macroeconomics, mostly. Meanwhile, Allais—who will be awarded the Nobel Prize about ten years after this dedication—was a theoretician, also very influential in Europe, but mostly in microeconomics.

    The complete works of Yasunari Kawabata (1899–1972)

    Kawabata was the first Japanese author to win the Nobel Prize in Literature (1968). His novels and short stories are characterized by a spare, lyrical, subtly-shaded prose. Kawabata can be considered the father of a tradition that survives nowadays with authors such as Kenzaburo Oe and Yoko Ogawa.

     

    My collection of Kawabata's works include a first English edition of The Lake (1974) and the compiled correspondence between Kawabata and Yukio Mishima.

    A first edition of Ricardo's Economics by Michio Morishima (1989).

    It was a gift from Morishima to Kenneth Arrow.
    In my opinion, it is an emblem of the end of an era: the end of general-theory research in mainstream economics. Kenneth Arrow was the most influential economist of his generation and a symbol of the Walrasian general theory heritage. Morishima was a very important dude too (he was a professor at LSE, President of the Econometric Society...). “Ricardo's Economics”, together with "Marx's Economics" and "Walras' Economics", completed a sequence of works in which Morishima reinterpreted the main general-theory traditions.

    A first edition of Almanaque La Ilustración (1880)

    This was Wikipedia before Wikipedia.

     

    Before the invention of the radio, it was quite difficult to know what was happening outside of one's village. This type of publications was the usual way to inform people on international reality. It had stories about geography, politics, culture, etc. It was beautifully illustrated by pieces based on travelers' narratives. An ideal example of how social sciences were deeply tied to literature and a recent past.

     

  • Entrepreneurial me

    I have always been interested in entrepreneurship. I have personally undertaken two large entrepreneurship projects in my career.

     

    The first one was a start-up called Revista Peso, which I co-founded with Juan José González. Revista Peso was one of the precursors in the independent digital media business in Colombia. We launched it in 2012 and, at its peak, we had thousands of readers per day. The company closed in 2014 as my commitments with the Ph.D. interfered with my role at the start-up.

     

    My second entrepreneurial project came sometime after I finished my Ph.D. With a couple of partners, I created a small private investment fund called Al Mudhakira, which focuses on real estate and equity in emerging markets--Latin America and MENA specifically.

     

    We manage Al Mudhakira in complete privacy. However, I am proud to share that it has contributed to make me a more skeptical and grounded thinker. To expose my ideas on society and business to the real world, bearing significant personal risk for doing it, is an instructive and humbling experience that constantly nourishes my perspective as a scholar.

     

    This dimension of my life has also been helpful in my role as a media commentator, forcing me to be permanently well-informed of the political and economic conjuncture of my regions of specialty.

  • Social Me

    I am pretty active in social media. Check out my latest updates!